Along with AMD’s epic quarterly results that were announced yesterday afternoon, there was also an interesting nugget buried in the earnings call for the results. We’ve known for some time now that AMD was going to be working with both TSMC and fraternal fab GlobalFoundries to produce 7nm products, similar to what they’ve done for their current-generation 16nm/14nm products. However until now it hasn’t been clear how those products would be allocated – whether TSMC will once again just produce semi-custom APUs, or if they’ll do more. But now we have an answer thanks to AMD’s earnings call, and the answer is indeed “more”.

Specifically, AMD CEO Lisa Su has announced that second-generation “Rome” EPYC CPU that the company is wrapping up work on is being produced out at TSMC. This is a notable departure from how things have gone for AMD with the Zen 1 generation, as GlobalFoundries has produced all of AMD’s Zen CPUs, both for consumer Ryzen and professional EPYC parts.

So, Matt, on your first question relative to the manufacturing of the second generation of EPYC, so as I said earlier, we are working with both the TSMC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES in 7-nanometer. As for the 7-nanometer Rome that we're currently sampling, that's being manufactured at TSMC.

As it stands, AMD seems rather optimistic about how things are currently going. Rome silicon is already back in the labs, and indeed AMD is already sampling the parts to certain partners for early validation. Which means AMD remains on track to launch their second-generation EPYC processors in 2019.

Unfortunately, the call offered no real insight as to why AMD has shifted to using TSMC for some of their CPUs for this upcoming generation. AMD’s hands are somewhat tied on fab choice in as much as they have quotas under their wafer share agreement with GlobalFoundries that they must fulfill. How AMD wants to split that up is up to them, but beyond that AMD hasn’t offered any information as to why they’ve made the choices they have.

Ultimately however if they are meeting their order quota from GlobalFoundries, then AMD’s situation is ultimately much more market driven: which fab can offer the necessary capacity and performance, and at the best prices. Which will be an important consideration as GlobalFoundries has indicated that it may not be able to keep up with 7nm demand, especially with the long manufacturing process their first-generation DUV-based 7nm “7LP” process requires.

Source: AMD Q2'18 Earnings Call

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  • iwod - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    It may not be better in terms of technical feature set. That is up for debate, because GF and TSMC have different focus on 7nm HP. But one thing for sure is TSMC has MUCH higher 7nm capacity then GF. I have been wondering why they didn't do this earlier, or may be they were being much more conservative.

    Fabbing EPYC 2 with TSMC meant AMD won't have its hand tied by GF capacity, which is currently sharing with Vega, Ryzen etc. The Chinese Joint venture are producing EPYC with TSMC anyway, so there are some synergy in there as well.

    Considering EYPC aren't even moving much in terms of market share but are already 60% of Consumer Desktop / Laptop / CPU + GPU Ships combined, as shown in the latest quarter results, which means AMD are currently selling lots of EPYC, and likely already constrained by GF. Intel DC segment is 10x the size of current AMD, with Intel 's 10nm behind, and their Icelake IPC improvement also delayed well into 2020. Zen 2 / EPYC 2 will be in a perfect scenario. Lisa likely don't want to waste this chance for whatever Waffer agreement they have with GF, the consumer division will have to work harder to fill those demand, which I assume won't be much of a problem.
  • FreckledTrout - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    To your last point I assume AMD they already met there wafer agreement this year and if Gloflo outs Ryzen (Zen 2) next year then GloFlo will have its hands full. Lisa Su is making all the right moves imo.
  • Samus - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    TSMC is a natural choice for a chip like this. Low volume, large die. The volume of Threadrippers is negligible to offset their obligations with GloFo, and TSMC is far better suited to producing monolithic dies.
  • SaturnusDK - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    Large die? The die size is the same as the Ryzen dies. There's just 4 of them like in the next gen Threadripper. However, at 7nm most people expect those dies to have 12 or even 16 cores each while being the same small size as the current ones.
  • Cooe - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Umm Rome (EPYC 2nd Gen) isn't a large monolithic die, just like 1st Gen wasn't. It's 4x small chiplets linked via Infinity Fabric just like last time. They'll use the exact same SP3 socket / MCM package as currently.
  • wumpus - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Is this really confirmed? The math should be the same and I'd certainly expect that AMD would use MCM if using GloFo fabs. 64 cores should put it on the edge of what TSMC could do on one die, so they may well break it up into 4 dice. Of course they could always use an interposer (assuming they have a better network fabric and can justify the cost).

    Breaking it up likely also means that they haven't improved the network fabric. That's sad, but not unexpected (tons of server jobs don't need it, like pretty much all of AWS). I suspect that if they improved the fabric, they'd have 16-32 cores on each die, and only go MCM for really big monsters (or even using some HBM-like interposer).
  • Dragonstongue - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    could not agree more, she REALLY got AMD "back on track" here is hoping she got her fists on the Radeon team as well...I have never ever though Radeons were as "trash" as people claim them to be, sure performance could be higher here and there in certain generations, but they are good all rounders and spectacular at some other things and do not "mislead" nearly as badly as Ngreedia does.

    anyways, I have been "devoted" radeon fan since AMD took them over, (kind of) at least they are well built and they do not dumb down the component selection on the capacitors etc and "cheap out" by just using half arse hardware/software "tricks" to throttle them down to "attempt" to keep them from cooking themselves.

    do not have the coin myself (yet) but very much looking forward to the REAL Ryzen 2 (AMD did stupid naming for Ryzen 2xxx generation, they should have stuck with Ryzen + and the number, this way here it does not cause unneeded confusion when Ryzen 2 on 7nm launches..I doubt it, but here is hoping pricing is a wee tad more fair then Ryzen 1xxx and Ryzen 2xxx was/is for us Canadian folks and automatic "Canada" price higher then should be crud ^.^...I hate them marketing folks, they are "putzes"
  • ajp_anton - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Eh, 7nm CPUs will be Ryzen 3.

    Architecture - Product name
    Zen - Ryzen 1000
    Zen+ - Ryzen 2000
    Zen2 - Ryzen 3000
  • mpbello - Thursday, July 26, 2018 - link

    GF's 7nm is being designed to be better than TSMC's 7nm. However, TSMC has 7nm in HVM for a few months already, and while GF says they are on track with 7nm in HVM early 2019, that is still a promise.
    And AMD is in a big race vs. Intel, intel usually ships its server processors last on a given manufacturing node because Intel's server chips are huge monolithic dies and need to go into production when yields are really high. AMD with their CCX architecture relies on smaller dies so they do not need yields as high.
    If you consider CCX + TSMC, AMD is taking every chance it has against Intel. This is a huge opportunity for them and it is possible that TSMC will have 5nm out around the time Intel will have an answer to Rome. So, sticking with TSMC may mean staying ahead of Intel for many generations to come (GF on the other hand will skip 5nm).

    TSMC is the leading foundry right now, they have passed Intel and are expected to maintain their lead at least until 3nm. Epyc on TSMC is a huge headache for Intel.
  • Sahrin - Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - link

    Nobody knows that but the customers. My guess would be that GF specializes in yield (they were AMD's fab division, and AMD was focused on yield) whereas TSMC focuses on performance/density (because they're selling risk wafers, so who gives a fuck what the yield is the customer buys by the wafer).

    This is sort of born out by rumored Zeppelin yields and historical yield problems at TSMC with large GPU's.

    From an absolute perspective, TSMC's processes tend to better density characteristics objectives (metrics like gate pitch, etc, favor TSMC).

    I don't think TSMC has ever fabbed a very high clocking (>4 GHz) part in commercial volumes, so it may be that GF has an advantage there as well.

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